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First time computer build - i7 920

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February 8, 2009 11:01:12 PM

Hey gang, this is the first time I'm building a computer and would like an opinion on my setup. I've tried to research the heck out of these components through various sites, but I just want to make sure I'm not missing anything. I plan on using this computer for some HD video editing, gaming, and basic office applications. I want to remain as future proof as possible (my current computer is 8 years old, and just now starting to really show it's age). I might be adding on some more GPUs as they drop in price in the future. I do plan on overclocking the CPU, GPU, and RAM. Looking to overclock to a 24/7 stable system though. Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions.

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail
Item #: N82E16819115202

CPU Fan: Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 120mm SSO CPU Cooler - Retail
Item #: N82E16835608007

Mobo: ASUS P6T Deluxe v2 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail


GPU: ASUS ENGTX295/2DI/1792MD3/A GeForce GTX 295 1792MB 896 (448 x 2)-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
Item #:N82E16814121296

RAM: mushkin 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 998679 - Retail
Item #: N82E16820226030

or

OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P1600LV6GK - Retail
Item #: N82E16820227381

HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Item #: N82E16822136319 (2 for RAID 0)

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Model #:WD1001FALS
Item #:N82E16822136284

Case: Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail
Item #: N82E16811129043

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-1000HX 1000W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
Item #: N82E16817139007

Optical Drives:
LG Black Super Multi Blu-ray Disc Burner & HD DVD-ROM Drive SATA Model GGW-H20L - Retail
Item #: N82E16827136137
LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 - OEM
Item #: N82E16827136152

O/S: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders - OEM
Item #: N82E16832116488

Monitor: Acer H213H bmid Black 21.5" 5ms HDMI Full HD 1080P Widescreen 16:9 LCD Monitor - Retail
Item #: N82E16824009157
February 8, 2009 11:24:54 PM

Everything's looking good. But since you're getting a 64 bit OS I recommend a dual graphics card, GX2, GTX295, 4870 X2, you get the idea. I suggest the GTX 295, if it's in your budget. This way you have more space for other stuff in the case, you'll have quad graphics in only 2 cards. (2 X2 video cards) And speaking of your case, good choice. I have a Nine Hundred. Good luck!
February 8, 2009 11:42:47 PM

that power supply is overkill for this system. Go with a quality 850w like the corsair model.
Related resources
February 9, 2009 2:43:50 AM

Thanks for the info. I would like to go 295, but the build is already over budget. That's kinda why I'll wait until the 280's come down in price, then SLI.

As for the PSU, when I did the PSU calculator on extreme, with figuring the OC at 3.8 at 1.65 volts (which is what the reviews seem to be getting easily) then wattage was 950 plus. So I went with the 1200 to give me headroom for the second/third GPU eventually. Not good?
February 9, 2009 3:04:15 AM

Your cpu cannot handle 1.65v, it will get fried. 1.65v is the spec put out by intel for the limit on the ram voltage, not the CPU. For dual GTX 280's and an overclocked CPU, Corsair 850tx would handle just fine. 1.35v would probably be plenty on your CPU for a 3.8ghz OC.

Also, the 640gb Caviar Black drives are faster than the 750 gb drives, so if you really want that speed then I would go for some of those instead. Since you are planning on running your drives in Raid 0, I would recommend getting a 1TB drive for data backup, Raid 0 has a 100% higher failure rate than one drive by itself.

Other than that your build looks great.
February 9, 2009 4:30:05 AM

+1 to Caviar Black 640GB in Raid 0

No GTX 285?

Look for a P6T Deluxe V2.

+1 to Corsair 850TX

RAM is great, get a second kit for 12GB when budget allows.

Scythe Mugen 2 is a better value.
February 9, 2009 12:48:31 PM

Thanks for the info. Question now though. If I run two 650 drives in RAID 0, how does the 1TB backup drive work? Wouldn't that be more like a RAID 5 or 10? And a followup - the MB specs list it can do RAID 0/1/5/10 - do I need a RAID card for that, or will the MB take care of it?

Switched graphics cards to a 285.
New Egg does not have any P6T V2 listed... only difference SAS and supported RAM? Will wait to see price difference.
February 9, 2009 4:19:31 PM

You can run the two 640gb drives in raid 0, then just have the other drive there and you use it to manually backup your data that is important. Raid 5 does this for you manually, but doesn't give you as much of a speed boost as raid 0.

The motherboard will be able to handle raid without a card, although getting a separate raid card can give you slightly better speeds, but its not worth the price of a separate raid card.
February 9, 2009 5:21:55 PM

@todd

The necessity of x2 cards you provided is completely impractical. Given Antec's 1200 is large enough to fit a small refrigerator in, I dont think a couple of GPUs is going to put his rig into such a space crunch his whole setup will be ruined.
February 9, 2009 5:33:58 PM

todd5854 said:
since you're getting a 64 bit OS I recommend a dual graphics card, GX2, GTX295, 4870 X2, you get the idea.
What would you recommend for a 32bit OS? And why does the 32bit/64bit OS have any bearing at all on choosing a video card?

I'd like to know what the OP will be using for a monitor - the size and resolution. That makes recommending a video card a lot easier.

LG Black Super Multi Blu-ray Disc Burner - actually its not a Blu-ray Disc Burner. It burns DVDs, but does not burn Blu-ray discs. The LG optical drive is a good choice as long as you're not intending to burn Blu-ray media.
Sorry :sol:  - it actually is a Blu-ray burner.

Also to the OP - can you update your first post with the current items you're looking at?
February 9, 2009 5:37:46 PM

Yeah your OS doesn't really have any effect on your graphics card choices, just the amount of RAM that your system will be able to utilize. 64 bit will allow more ram than you can physically install at this point, a 32 bit will only allow about 3.5gb.
February 10, 2009 3:34:37 AM

OK, I updated my choices. I actually had a different GPU in my cart at newegg, but it's now out of stock... it was just the overclocked version of the current card in there (it was only $5 more)

My second question is between two different mushkin RAMs:

mushkin 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 998679 - Retail
Item #: N82E16820226030

mushkin 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 998659 - Retail
Item #: N82E16820226034

The only difference I could see was the CAS timings and the voltage... would I be able to take the cheaper one and mess with the volts and CAS to make it the more expensive one? (and thus save me about $50)
February 10, 2009 3:39:34 AM

I think that todd5854 is alluding to the 4GB memory limit for 32-bit operating systems, which includes video RAM, and has confused that with frame buffer size for x2 video cards.

Here's the Asus P6T Deluxe V2: NCIX USA link. At the risk of getting flamed over the issues surrounding the P6T Deluxe, I would lean towards the V2, just to be safe here. So you've lost the SAS controller--doubt you'd be using those expensive drives anyway.

You want 2 drives in RAID 0 for HD video editing (along with 12GB RAM). The 2 640GBs give you the best speed (more so than 2 750s), short of 2 1TBs in RAID 0, but that costs a bit more. I'm not going to mention 2 Velociraptors or SSDs in RAID 0.

2 640s gives you 1.28TB on the primary drive, so a 1TB backup drive is about right.

You said that you were already over budget, so we haven't gone overboard here. Ideally, you would consider some type of media server arrangement to store your media files, and also backup your stuff to Blu-ray discs with your BR burner as well.

The mobo RAID controller can run RAID, but a hardware controller card (expensive) would allow you to port your array to another computer. However, for that cost, better to start building a media server instead, IMO.

February 10, 2009 3:48:07 AM

uspbacchus said:
My second question is between two different muskin RAMs:

mushkin 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 998679 - Retail
Item #: N82E16820226030

mushkin 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 998659 - Retail
Item #: N82E16820226034

The only difference I could see was the CAS timings and the voltage... would I be able to take the cheaper one and mess with the volts and CAS to make it the more expensive one? (and thus save me about $50)

Without Mushkin Greg, not a chance. :pfff: 

The black ones are best--xthekidx has them and look at his signature. I doubt the blue ones could hit that mark, though I could be wrong.

I would be inclined to use the blue ones to increase speed beyond 1600 while upping the voltage, but if you will run a speed below 1600, I'd rather use the black ones with tightened timings (a la xthekidx).
February 10, 2009 4:01:55 AM

OK, thanks for the info. I've updated all my components and posted the monitor as requested. The only question I had was an alternate GPU to the out of stock EVGA which might get tossed regardless since the MSI is actually slightly better in it's clocking for the same price.

When I said I was over budget, maybe the best way to describe it was I wanted to be at $2000, but my upper limit was $2500. Didn't feel a need to hit the upper limit, but it was there if necessary.

As for the PSU, I went to NVIDIA's website, and the Thermaltake was the recommended PSU for 3 - 285s. Do I need them now, no. But when they eventually drop down in price in a year or so, I would probably wind up picking up two more and just maxing out my system on the cheap. If the Corsair can get me there in the future I would definately consider since the savings are significant.
February 10, 2009 5:02:05 AM

Akebono 98 said:
Without Mushkin Greg, not a chance. :pfff: 

The black ones are best--xthekidx has them and look at his signature. I doubt the blue ones could hit that mark, though I could be wrong.

I would be inclined to use the blue ones to increase speed beyond 1600 while upping the voltage, but if you will run a speed below 1600, I'd rather use the black ones with tightened timings (a la xthekidx).

I'm actually using the OCZ 1600 platinum's, they are rated at 7-7-7-24, but before I overclocked they worked just fine at 7-7-7-20 1600. I'm sure those mushkins will give you very similar performance though, I just couldn't wait for the mushkins to come back in stock so I went with the Platinums. They were my second choice, but have worked out very nicely for me.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
February 11, 2009 1:07:56 AM

@xthekidx: And here I was drooling over your RAM timings all this time thinking they were the black Mushkins! Thanks for the clarification.
February 11, 2009 1:10:41 AM

That Acer is a great monitor and 2 GTX 285s would be pretty good already for that resolution (remember, it's slightly less than the standard 24" resolution). In that case, the Corsair 850TX is fine.

However, since you brought up tri-SLI, note that the P6T Deluxe CANNOT run tri-SLI (look at the slot spacing). If you really want to build in tri-SLI later, then you'd have to look at the eVGA X58 mobo or the Asus P6T6 WS Revolution (OK, here come the flames). Then there are the Gigabytes EX58-UD4P and UD5, and the Asus Rampage II Extreme, all of which I like less for tri-SLI purposes because the third card has to hang off the end of the mobo.

Now if you wanted to build in headroom on the PSU for eventual tri-SLI, then IMO, the only PSU that I would use to run 3 GTX 285s in tri-SLI would be the PCP&C 1200W. You're going to need lots of amperage on the 12V rail, so don't just look at the global power rating. Don't skimp on PSU here--you're also going to be running lots of RAM and drives.

I'd also consider XFX and Asus for GTX 285 alternates.
February 11, 2009 4:25:49 AM

OK, so tri-SLI looks like it's out. Couple of reasons... first initial cost. New MB, new PSU... adds on at least an additional $260. Not counting cards down the line. Heard bad reviews on EVGA for ease of OCing (esp for first timers), and poor spacing for cooling GPUs. The P6T6 would also preclude any additional use of the PCI slots if I tri-SLI, and no other slots are provided.

So if I go 2x285, what will I really miss vs 3x? Also, why would Corsair 850 be ok for 2 GPUs, but have to increase 300+ Watts for 3 cards? Is it the single rail configuration vs dual (Corsair 1000) or quad (Thermaltake 1200)?
February 12, 2009 1:24:57 AM

Here's an article that gives you a guide to the current benefit of the third nVidia video card. It really only matters for Crysis at the moment and if you use a 30" monitor. However, IMO the way to use tri-SLI is to extend the significant investment that you have made in 2 GTX 285s--i.e. in the future, some stunning games come out with stunning graphics that you want to max out. You feel that your 2 GTX 285s just don't cut it any more. You add a third and you're happy. I'm just guessing, but such games would perhaps be along the lines of Alan Wake, with its hyper-realistic graphics.

With PSUs, the global power rating is misleading, especially when you get to this level. First of all, you must get a PSU with 6 PCIe connectors, regardless of the power rating. Then, you must drill down to the amperage on the 12V rail(s). The PCP&C 1200W doesn't deliver a full 1200W continuous on the single 12V rail, it's actually 1080W. For such a super high-end setup, I'd want a single rail and margin--that's why I'd go with that PSU. You can use the Corsair 1000HX to drive 3 GTX 285s, but you have to be very careful in how you connect the power cables. Refer to this diagram if you do decide to go that route: diagram link. Note also that when scaling video cards, the second and third cards aren't fully utilized and power consumption falls off as well (i.e. 3 GTX 285s do not use the power of a GTX 285 times 3).
February 12, 2009 3:26:10 AM

@akebono - I don't think the article crossed about tri-SLI

OK, so maybe I'm being difficult here, but I'd like to forget the $500 PCP&C. I don't know that I can justify that for a game that I might want to play down the road. What would be your next recommendation? Corsair 1000HX? Silverstone OP-1000?

Back to the MBs. What would your recommendation be on that one since there are inherent flaws with each of the boards? (no expansion beyond graphics cards on both if using 3 GPUs, and not true 16X speed X3 on the EVGA). Guess the P6T6 would be the winner since it can do true 16X by 3 and if not want all three, can use an open PCI express slot for additional cards.
February 12, 2009 4:04:55 AM

I would suggest not using 3 GPUs, you lose a considerable amount of performance from these cards due to scaling (3 gtx 285 does not equal 3x the graphics power, more like 1.75-1.9x that of one GTX 285). 2 GTX 285's would run any game at just about any resolution without a problem. If you really want to go over 2 GPU's, just go with a GTX 295 right now and get another one later and then you don't need to worry about getting a Mobo to support 3way sli. But by the time that 2 gtx 285's don't run your games, you will be able to buy one GPU that will do the trick and run on your 2way sli mobo. You also won't have to worry about the PSU as much, a 850tx will do the trick, as stated earlier.
February 13, 2009 3:04:12 AM

Oops--here's the article link:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-core-216,21...

Super high-end graphics is a very complex matter, and I'd also look at this article to round things out:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-295,212...

If you're going this route, it would probably help to decide on which card solution you want, and then build around that. One thing to keep in mind is that if you throw out the outlier Crysis, then setting up a gaming rig becomes a lot easier. I would advise against building a rig based on the Crysis spec, unless it just happens to be your favorite game.

PSU: For tri-SLI power supplies, after the PCP&C 1200W, I would go with the Corsair 1000HX (remember my diagram above) and then after that, the Silverstone ZM 1200M (not the OP-1000).

Mobo: The biggest problem with tri-SLI mobos is the inherent limitation of 32 PCIe lanes on the X58 chipset, which is why they split to x16/x8/x8 when using tri-SLI. That in itself is not a problem with GTX 285 cards, because x8 is good enough. Moreover, the second and third cards aren't fully utilized, so x8 is again sufficient for them. So for now, this isn't so bad.

Hypothetically, if you were to scale x2 cards into tri-SLI, then you would probably want x16 slots for all of them, if possible. However, you can't do this now (not enough bridge connectors), so that's not an issue. But if you want the best graphics of all, let's say that nVidia comes out with a GTX 395 that does allow for tri-SLI. Then you'd have to go for the P6T6 WS Revolution as being the most future proof.

I think the way to look at it is to consider the key limitations: do you want to run a soundcard and do you think you will need 3x16?

If you want a soundcard, then I'd go with Rampage II Extreme, then EX58-UD5, then EX58-UD4P, in that order, provided that you check the connections on the bottom edge of the mobo and they will clear the third card (when cables are installed), and provided that you have a case that has extra openings at the bottom to fit the third card hanging off the edge.

I'd probably want a soundcard, so I'd have to compromise and have the third card hanging off the edge.

But for super high end graphics, perhaps the best all-round compromise & configuration is the P6T Deluxe V2 with 2 GTX 295s, a soundcard and an open PCI slot.

Either way, you have to compromise on something, just make sure it is the factor that you can do without.

xthekidx also makes very good points in his most recent post above. You could say that my discussion in this post is a little "hardcore". :sol: 
February 14, 2009 4:00:17 AM

OK, looks like I've settled in on a final build... until I change my mind tomorrow. It's probably gonna be a P6T with a single GTX 295 (for now) and the Corsair HX-1000 since Corsair is stating it can run 2 GTX 295s in SLI on it's website. Now if newegg would just get my stuff in stock I'd be golden...
February 14, 2009 4:08:20 AM

Make it the P6T Deluxe unless you are prepared to watercool your video cards. The the regular P6T places the first two PCIEx16 slots very close to each other and the two cards will be back to back. The first card will have its fan right up against the back of the second one and get almost no airflow, the air it gets will be hot from the back of the second GTX 295. The P6T deluxe has better spacing of the PCIEx16 slots and will allow better air cooling.

You may be planning the P6T deluxe, but I'm just making sure.
February 14, 2009 4:23:57 AM

Sorry about that... Yup, it is the deluxe, just version 2.
February 14, 2009 4:30:04 AM

Bueno. Good luck with your build, Post some pics for us when you are done!!!
February 14, 2009 9:51:11 PM

updated to different fan (Vigor out of stock and Noctua got better reviews)
updated to different RAM (mushkin out of stock until 2/23)
February 16, 2009 12:10:36 AM

Excellent! :sol: 

Don't know if this works on the Asus card (the screws may not line up properly), but just in case you wanted better cooling on your GTX 295 card, eVGA makes this very nice backplate for its GTX 295: link.

The Noctua is a great cooler, and the complete kit with backplate and thermal paste makes life easy too.
February 16, 2009 1:06:50 AM

Basically all GTX 295s are out everywhere (I can find a PNY one, but not sure about the company). I'll take whatever comes in stock anywhere first as long as it's a good company.
February 16, 2009 5:33:29 PM

That's disappointing as far as the mushkin. They have some good OC headroom. I've heard positive things.
February 16, 2009 9:13:39 PM

With the way things are going, I might just wait for the asus MB to get in stock at new egg and go from there. Now Asus GPU in stock, but not my two WD black HDs. No biggie yet though. I don't mind waiting for it all to come together and maybe drop in price.
February 16, 2009 11:16:40 PM

Good idea--doesn't hurt to wait to get it perfect for such a top notch rig.

Btw, Mushkin RAM is also available through their own website.

Life's tough when you want the best stuff... :D 
March 8, 2009 3:27:00 AM

OK, so amazingly everything finally was in stock and ordered and even put together (Big Thank You!!). The system booted up and everything looks like it's running as it should. But here's my question, should I format my hard drives before loading Vista, or are they already formatted? When I went to install Windows Vista (my two 640GB drives in RAID 0, 1TB drive disconnected) the option to format was not able to be clicked. It appears that the Vista load went fine, but before I start loading all my drivers and programs, I just want to double check about formatting the drives.
!